Monday 29 September 2008

The Imaginary Review Gone Wild! Too Hot For Blogger!

I’ve recently written some reviews that have, upon subsequent re-reading, appeared to be a little too close to the bone for my liking. It is clear that these reviews, if I were to enter them in my Blogger account, would probably cause offence to the casual reader. (You know who you are, casual reader! You’re the one who pops by when searching for reviews of the “Magic Treehouse Musical” or the “New Puff Daddy Album”. You’re also highly intrigued by the picture of the romance novel cover featuring Bill Clinton! Don’t worry! I still love you, even if you never return to the site after realising it’s not what you were looking for!)

Because of these more risqué reviews, I’ve decided to explore other outlets for them, just as a temporary thing. I’ve been looking at my options, and while nothing is set in stone yet, I’m thinking of dealing with a Pay per View provider to create a special one-off entitled: The Imaginary Review Gone Wild! Too Hot For Blogger! It should be available soon on a special Pay per ReView basis, and I’m going to give you a special sneak preview now, with some exclusive extracts. Enjoy!

“…Itinerary problems forced me to arrive at the games a couple of weeks late, but they were still going on when I did get there. But after seeing some of the events, I regretted my attendance greatly. The sportsmanship at these events – or lack thereof – is, I believe, a major stumbling block for the organisers. I don’t care how exciting the events are, the International Olympic Committee has to deal with the cheating and poor form on display. For a fairly small example, take the sprint I witnessed yesterday. The runners were so sure of themselves and so arrogant that all of them ran the entire 100 metres with their eyes closed. While some people may have been impressed with this bravado, for this reviewer it signalled the end of the Olympic Games’ claim to friendliness and brotherhood.

Even worse was what I saw this morning, again on the race track. I daresay I have never witnessed such bare-faced cheating during a sporting event, and I’ve been to an Italian football game. The competitors in the race were all, to a man, using wheeled carriages to propel themselves. As can be expected from such behaviour, their times for the 400 metres race were quite, quite impressive. And the worst thing about this blatant dishonesty? The officials just let it all happen, as if nothing was wrong. Presumably they were in cahoots with the cheating competitors, and everyone involved ought to be ashamed of themselves…” – From The Imaginary Reviewer Goes to the Paralympics

“…but while Gerald Ford’s inclusion on the DVD is mercifully brief, the same can’t be said for George Bush Sr. The footage of him and Barbara is about as erotic as polystyrene potty, and contains about the same amount of unpleasant squeaking. There were moments during the fifteen-minute encounter when I felt like I was watching two manatees fighting.

Former President Carter, on the other hand, was a completely different proposition. Watching him slowly and tenderly make love to the young lady in his bed (no mention is given of who this woman is), one is certainly reminded that Mister Carter was a very generous lover...” – From DVD Review: The Presidential Sex Tape Collection

A scene from George H. W. Bush's night-vision sex tape. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry.

“…Many of the ladies on show were quite blatant in their displays of lower leg. Some of the ankles on show were so shapely that I was quite short of breath after only a few minutes. I can only hope that saying the Lord’s Prayer repeatedly after watching this TV series will help my soul to avoid the pain of eternal Hellfire. Even now, I can still see the harlots’ ankles when I close my eyes, and the visions haunt me even in my dreams; I now wake up feeling so shocked and affronted that my manhood has usually risen up in sympathetic anger….” From the review of the new Fox TV show, Victorian England’s Hottest Ankles

Contact your cable provider for more information on The Imaginary Review Gone Wild! Pay per Review. And be thankful I didn't make more jokes about the Paralympic Games, you heathens.

Friday 26 September 2008

Choose Your Own Imaginary Review: Part 3

Click here for last week’s instalment, in which we decided to review the suicide of a young man whose love for a sandwich toaster made him jump out of a balloon with the implement still attached to his penis. I left you to decide what the review’s overall impression of the suicide would be, and what would be the cause of it.

Well, it seems that you guys weren’t particularly impressed with the suicide, narrowly deciding that it was “Trite, one of the worst you’ve seen”. The reason for this? An abundance of kittens. With this in mind, let’s get back to the review!

Suicide Review – John Doe and his Sandwich Toaster (Continued)

I’ll tell you what we can make out of this suicide: Not a lot. This was a trite, unoriginal, boring self-destruction from start to finish. Nothing about this suicide was in any way interesting. From the note (“Blah blah blah I’m so depressed and unoriginal and I love my sandwich toaster no matter what anyone says because I’m totally lacking in creativity blah blah blah”) to the shoddy landing from the fall (which scored zero points for splat factor and gut distance), I can recommend nothing about the way John Doe ended his life. Even the clothes he was wearing during his final minutes looked like they’d been stolen from a homeless scarecrow.

And the kittens! Why oh why did he involve so many kittens? The Godfather of great suicide, Gustav K. Lampton, said in 1963 that the inclusion of cats of any kind in a suicide should be limited to three at most, and everyone since then has followed this rule. Filling the basket of his balloon with so many young felines gave John Doe’s suicide a confused, childish tinge that would certainly look out of place when compared to the great hara-kiris of the past. And there are so many unanswered questions, like why did he include the kittens in the first place? Was he trying to smother himself in them? Were they there for reassurance? For sustenance if he was trapped up a tree? Whatever, it seems such a waste that none survived after the balloon crash landed in a goat field several miles away. That was the biggest tragedy in all this.
We're nearing the end now. What is the sad twist to this tragic tale?

What is the twist to this tale?
The Sandwich Toaster's family are suing the young man's family
The young man's family are suing Isaac Newton for inventing gravity
The kittens' families are suing me for killing them off
The witnesses are suing the dead young man for shocking them
Some of the witnesses to the suicide were so moved that they formed a polygamous sect free polls

You're also going to have to give this suicide a rating. How will you decide it?

How are you going to decide a rating for this suicide?
By considering all the evidence and coming up with a fair and balanced number
By picking a number out of your ass
Roll 2 six sided dice and subtract the result from your 'Luck' score
Pick a card, any card
By asking a stranger for their phone number and adding all the digits together free polls

Tuesday 23 September 2008

The New iPhone Application from ThingFinder Inc.

Ever since I found an Apple iPhone on the subway I haven’t been able to put it down. There’s so much it can do, and even when the previous owner calls me with threats and vague promises of police action, I haven’t succumbed to the temptation of altruistically returning it. As well as the telephonic and Internetty capabilities, a great deal of third-party applications can be bought for the gizmo, the latest of which is an absolutely essential purchase.

Named after the patron saint of lost people and things, the application is snappily titled Jude, Where’s My Car Keys? Quite simply, having this software on your iPhone means that you will never lose another item again. Using a combination of spy satellites, x-ray surveillance technology and ex-KGB employees, ThingFinder, Inc., are aware of the location of every single thing in the world, and users are able to access this information through their iPhones.

I tested the Jude… software extensively, beginning with some simple requests. The layout is easy to navigate, with a host of options for advanced users. At the most basic level, one is presented with a screen not unlike a regular search engine, with the phrase “Jude, where’s my:” and a box for typing in a query. I began with “car keys,” and was informed within seconds that they were on the coffee table next to my copy of Changesbowie. Sure enough, there they were. A similar level of success was also had when I enquired as to the whereabouts of my passport (my underwear drawer, on the right side), my childhood teddy bear (my parents’ attic) and Jack Nicholson (the Denny’s on 34th Street).

Advanced settings allow even more refined searches in Jude, Where’s My Car Keys. For example, I changed the options to include both historical and non-physical items and searched for my virginity. The answer came back: “Last seen in the third pew of Our Lady’s Church, Shaftesbury, 1994.” This result, while painful for me to remember (and, presumably, for Father O’Brien to remember, as it is ultimately what led to his incarceration), is true.

The application certainly has some implications for personal safety and privacy, as well as the obvious national security concerns, but a very stringent and effective login system is used, meaning that it is very difficult for someone to hack into another person’s account. Also, certain requests do require an advanced-level Government account with the requisite clearances attached. Incidentally (on a related note), it’s nice to see that the programmers have a sense of humour; type in “Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction” and the result “Ha ha ha! Nice try, Monkey-Boy!” comes up. I am told that there are several other Easter eggs of this nature, but I haven’t been able to find them.

I can’t think of anyone for whom this program wouldn’t be a great help. As well as the simple assistance (who out there hasn’t misplaced their sandals at one point or another?), Jude… can help us learn about ourselves. For example, I asked it to find “my sense of self-respect and optimism”, and the following result came back: “taken by Now Toronto Magazine”. Outstanding.

All in all, this excellent program will make sure you never lose a single thing again. If you forget where you’re parked, where you put your cigarette lighter or where you last saw your childhood innocence, Jude, Where’s My Car Keys? will tell you. If you suspect your partner of infidelity, it will let you know where she is at any point. If someone steals your dog, you’ll be able to locate it without needing to bother the police. All in all, I can’t recommend this application enough. Go out and get it before I hit you.

Jude, Where’s my Car Keys v.1.0 is available from Monday, priced…Hey, wait a minute… has anyone seen my iPhone? I can’t find it anywhere….shit, it was here a second ago, I’m sure of it…

Friday 19 September 2008


I have received several letters of complaint regarding some of my recent reviews, and would like to take this opportunity to formally apologise for the unfortunate existence of errors, omissions and material that has offended some people. Here I would like to correct and clarify some points I have made on this blog.

Many readers wrote to complain about my prostitute review from a few months ago (“London Whore Round-Up”, June 16th). In the review I summed up ‘Gloria’ from SW1 as “Remarkably poor value for money, with abysmal technique, a smell not unlike a dead sturgeon, and a skin condition that makes her resemble a digestive biscuit in a bra.” Numerous readers took umbrage with this assessment, and I am humbly forced to accept their protests. Gloria’s odour is more like a dead haddock than a dead sturgeon.

Furthermore, a clerical error on the part of Top Notch Escort and Massage Services meant that my review of ‘Michelle,’ of whom I wrote, “as easy on the eye as she is in the sack…excellent use of the lips and tongue…perfect buttocks…well versed in both Swedish and Dutch styles…” was incorrect. The person who engaged me so much that evening was actually a different Top Notch employee, called ‘Darren’. Top Notch Escort and Massage Services regret the error.

An un-noticed typographical error in my review of the latest bungee equipment led me to claim that the Cavendish X300 Bungee Cord is effective up to heights of 200 feet. The X300 is actually only suitable for heights of up to 150 feet. I apologise to the families of those affected by the review.

Finally, in February I reviewed the opening night of Sir Alexander Wimthrall-Spot’s sixteen-week-long exhibition of watercolours at the Royal Leamington Spa Pump Room Art Gallery. In the review, I said that “Sir Alexander’s childish and merit-free daubings are about as welcome on the eye as the sight of an alligator eating one’s legs. The man himself is a washed-up old dolt, with an oafish appearance and a stupid face. When he spoke to me at length about his insipid works of ‘art’ (and I use the term as loosely as possible), I wondered if the sewers had started to overflow outside, but later realised that the smell was actually Sir Alexander’s breath. I would rather be forced to wear a wet suit while suffering from diarrhoea than look upon another shitfest resulting from this prick-faced old twat’s useless paintbrush.”

Sir Alexander himself wrote to complain about my review of his work. He quite rightly points out that the photograph of him that I included in the review was, due to an error on my part, of Shirley Bassey. I apologise for the error and thank Sir Alexander for his kind words about the rest of the review.

Sir Alexander Wimthrall-Spot

Thursday 18 September 2008

Choose Your Own Imaginary Review: Part 2

Click here to see Part 1 of this exciting and culturally relevant series. Gravity and human/appliance romance won their respective polls this week, with ‘Things Falling Out of the Sky’ beating ‘Foodstuffs’ into second place, and ‘The love between a man and a sandwich toaster’ rallying after an early lead by ‘Tits’. Incidentally, the early popularity of this option prompted Future Mrs Imaginary Reviewer to comment, brilliantly, “Someone appears to be stuffing the ballot box with ‘Tits’. I will leave you with that image as we continue with the review!

With a great idea in your head, you – The Imaginary Reviewer – begin to type, starting with the title and the first couple of scene-setting paragraphs:

Suicide Review – John Doe and his Sandwich Toaster

For sheer drama this week, few could have anticipated the events that led to a young man throwing himself out of a balloon in the Norfolk countryside. Like many tragedies of this nature, a doomed romance was the reason, and in true Romeo and Juliet fashion, the object of the young man’s affections was exterminated at the same time. And therefore, as a true testament to this forbidden love, the first witnesses on the scene found not only a man who had died from his injuries, but also an electric sandwich toaster, closed around the dead man’s penis. Understandably, neither implement remained in working order.

So far, so unusual; indeed, there are numerous elements of this suicide that differ from the norm. But does this necessarily make it a good one? Those with long memories may recall the death of Michael Hoodwink, an Australian artist who impaled himself on a breadstick. But while this suicide was far from normal, critics called it “derivative…almost base in its puerility” (A. A. Gill of The Times), “an unimaginative end to an unimaginative artist” (Germaine Greer in the Guardian) and “utter shite” (Umberto Eco in the Washington Post). So what can we make of this suicide?

What indeed? What will be the overall impression of you, the Imaginary Reviewer?

What indeed? What will be the overall impression of you, The Imaginary Reviewer?
An overwhelmingly fabulous suicide
Excellent intentions, but poor delivery
Trite, awful from start to finish, one of the worst you've seen
It was slow to start, but the pace quickened and was all the better for it
One of the most average suicides you've ever experienced free polls

And on what will you base this assessment?

And on what will you base this assessment?
The lack of dragon- and wizard-shaped soapstone carvings
A reliance on the influence of the Golden Age of Italian suicides
The obvious, yet uncredited role of an anonymous third party
Various often overlooked details, such as the splatter of blood and the wording of the suicide note
An abundance of kittens free polls

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Philosophical Book Round-Up

Some of you may have guessed from previous posts that I have a background in Philosophy. I believe that we can learn a lot from the deepest thinkers of the last few thousand years, and that current philosophical thought is advancing the knowledge and experience of the human race as much as anything else. I have recently been delving my nose into some of the latest books of philosophical thought written by the most eminent minds of our generation, with no fear of even the longest, most complicated words and sentences. Much of what I read was thought provoking, erudite and quite, quite brilliant, though some of the arguments and logical reasoning on display showed some room for improvement. Here are my findings.

On the Epistemological Qualities of Hegellian Dialectical Thought in the Twentieth Century by Professor Rutger Blenschneitz is a rubbish book because it has a brown cover. Brown covers are rubbish. I hate brown. Plus this book smells like asparagus. Professor Blenschneitz is a terrible writer because he has a silly name.

I enjoyed Cognitive Ethology and Quantum Philosophy: A Radical Comparative Approach by Sir Thomas Miller. This was because the book had some pictures of dogs in it. Dogs are great, aren’t they? They run around loads and they bite my sister. And then when they get wet they shake themselves dry and the wetness goes all over everywhere and everyone gets wet and starts crying. A wonderful book by a preeminent thinker.

Further Investigations into the Inter-Totality of Essence by Gottfried van Dyke went like this: “Dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur symbolism.” And then it went like this: “Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah meaning.” And then it went like this: “Dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur dur I smell, signed Gottfried van Poop.”

Professor Jayne Maddox is my favourite philosopher ever. I’ve got all her books, even the really rare ones that nobody else has. Her latest masterpiece, Godel’s Proof of the Incompleteness of Formal Systems and its Implications on the Progress of Science, is amazing, because it has a picture of her on the back cover. I can move the book around and her eyes follow me around. It’s like we’re dancing, Jayne Maddox and I. We’re dancing! Together! And in love!

This is the best book ever.

Finally, The Philosophy of Hannah Montana is an excellent introduction to the world of philosophical thought as told through the popular Disney Channel series. Existentialism, Leibniz’s Monadology, Plato’s Republic, Hume’s problem of induction and Descartes’ famed Cogito argument are all brilliantly explained in terms of Miley Cyrus and chums. Particularly strong is the section on the Philosophy of Language, with special mention being given to Tarski’s T-Scheme, metalanguages and the implication of the existence of paradoxes on formalised language. My only problems with this book are that it doesn’t have any pictures of dogs in it, and Professor Jayne Maddox isn’t on the cover.

Monday 15 September 2008

Television Review: Extreme Makeover Spinoffs

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a highly popular American reality TV show, the spin-off of Extreme Makeover, a show in which hideously ugly people were bullied by family members into having plastic surgery. The weekly episodes of Home Edition usually follow a similar format: Someone contacts the show because their family of 300 are forced to live in a stripper’s g-string in the bottom of a vat of acid. They can’t even afford the rent on the g-string because the head of the family (usually a soldier or a priest, or – even better – both) has been forced out of work due to his legs having fallen off while saving a kitten from death at the hands of a combine harvester. One (or all) of the 160 children in the family has a very rare disease that means they can’t come into contact with anything made of an odd number of atoms, and they all need to be permanently attached to giant medical machines that are so big they can’t be moved. The team of architects and designers then send the family to Disneyland, destroy the old living area and build a palace of luxurious proportions big enough for the population of a small nation, replete with specialist medical facilities (and staff) for the diseased children and enough bedrooms to make Bill Gates blush. The houses are built and furnished by companies who consider such generosity to be a small price to pay for being mentioned repeatedly by a popular prime-time show.

The popularity of this programme has led to several new spin-offs of the Extreme Makeover format. I had a look to see what they were like, and hoped that the unconcealed hatred I displayed in the previous paragraph didn’t affect my judgement.

Extreme Makeover: Personality Edition will begin in November, and will be hosted by Dr. Phil. Participants in the show will be nominated by their friends, relatives, coworkers and people who just happen to encounter them on the street. The criterion for inclusion on the show is that the participant must have some outrageously annoying personality defects, which the programme’s team of psychiatrists, psychologists and lifestyle consultants will attempt to fix.

The pilot episode featured Dave, an advertising salesman from Detroit. This man had so many personality problems that after ten minutes his very appearance on the screen made me want to kick the television. He finished other people’s sentences for them, laughed nervously at everything he said, made awkward comments to strangers and picked his nose on public transport. He was also so arrogant that Dr. Phil nearly punched him. The end of the show saw the experts make so little progress with Dave that they were forced to resort to making him watch a video of some kittens playing for eight hours, in a scene reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange.

From this first episode, Extreme Makeover: Personality Edition is a surprisingly satisfying show. It’s really worth it for the final few minutes, when a practically lobotomized Dave is revealed to his friends and relatives, now a much more agreeable individual whose sole personality flaw is the unfortunate tendency to drool slightly.

From next year, viewers will get to watch Extreme Makeover: Cockatiel Edition. It’s a common problem: You buy a cockatiel, you enjoy it for a few weeks, and then you start to get bored with it. Well, this is the show for you. People with dull avian pets can have bird and image experts redesign their cockatiels to make them much more interesting. The first episode had Minxy, a two-year-old female owned by Gordon Sludge of Brampton, painted blue and given a trendy Mohawk haircut. She was also given bionic wings so that she could double up as a cooling fan on hot days. I predict big things from this show.

Finally, Extreme Makeover: Makeover Show Edition has got the TV industry in a spin. Reality show producers with staid, unimaginative programmes and no inspiration can get their productions improved with help from the Extreme Makeover team. I didn’t like this show, because I felt that the people giving advice were bullies. The poor reality show makers were being forced to make conceptual changes to their programmes that they weren’t comfortable with. An example from the early episodes is a fashion makeover show specialist being forced to supervise in the building of a new lighthouse. And I couldn’t help but feel anger towards the expert who made a restaurant makeover show production team start creating makeover show makeover shows. For one, that episode was just confusing.

Thursday 11 September 2008

Choose Your Own Imaginary Review, Part 1

In the interests of shameless gimmickry interactivity and reader input, I have decided to write an Imaginary Review that is completely decided and designed by you, the readers.

I used to love Choose Your Own Adventure stories as a kid, what with their “To fight the giant toaster oven, turn to page 113, to run away like the cowardly chicken shit you are, turn to page 67, if you have the Financial Advisor’s Amulet and wish to use it, turn to page 12,” shenanigans. These books really made me feel as if I was some crazy page-turning God, and now you can get the same feeling of review-writing omnipotence with this, my latest hare-brained scheme.

So starting today and on a weekly basis, I will start a review and give you some options to choose from. Choose wisely, and let’s see what kind of an Imaginary Review we can create…


Shall we begin?

It’s a normal Monday morning. You, the Imaginary Reviewer, get up as usual and check the mail. Now Toronto Magazine still haven’t responded to your letters, even after you began sending the editor pieces of your own fingernails and toenails to show how much you enjoy their publication. There are rejection letters from What Horse?, Gentleman’s Monthly Surprise and Pictures of Fast Cars with Women Holding Guns Draped Over Them Digest magazines. Each of them rejected the same article, ‘Winter Skin Care: Dos and Donts’. It’s a normal Monday morning.

After cleansing your perfect body with the finest natural oils and emollients, you enjoy a breakfast of steak, eggs, steak and steak. Remembering your adoring readers and how they sit anxiously by their computers for your latest Imaginary Review, you sit down at the keyboard, crack your knuckles, and open Microsoft Word.

But what should you review?

But what should you review?
A Book
A Film
An Object Falling From the Sky
A New Government Policy
A Foodstuff free polls

And what will be the theme of this thing that you are going to review?

And what will be the theme of this thing that you are going to review?
Those creepy mall guys who carve wizard and dragon candle holders out of soapstone
The love between a man and his sandwich toaster
The philosophical belief that God is a giant egg sitting atop a mountain of butter
War between the squirrels and kindergarten students free polls

Come back again at the same time next week, when the Imaginary Review will continue with things that YOU decided upon!

In the case of a tie, The Imaginary Reviewer reserves the right to cry like a little girl.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Mix Tape Review: A Little Something for Becky by Craig

When a guy makes a mix tape for a female friend, it is usually under the premise of introducing said female to new and exciting music that the guy thinks she may like. In 99.9% of musical compilation cases, this declared reasoning is fibbery of the highest order. Instead, the main focus of producing a compilation for a female acquaintance can be summed up thusly: “I wish to wrangle my way into your underwear and believe exposing you to my surprisingly good musical taste will be my best way to achieve this ambition.”

Craig Parker’s mix for Becky Prentice – a girl who sees Mister Parker as a humorous friend and has no sexual attraction for him whatsoever – is a prime example of the standard “I know you don’t see me in that way yet but maybe this will change your mind” musical compilation. It ticks many of the usual boxes, and as a result suffers from the criticism of being woefully formulaic, a complaint that haunts many mixes of this genre. In some cases Craig throws out some interesting attempts at variation from the norm, but ultimately these end up missing the mark.

Take the first track on the CD, Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls. In his seminal work on romantically-inspired musical compilations, Mix Tapes for Mouthbreathing Neanderthals, Dwight Digweed devotes an entire chapter to this masterpiece of college-rock longing. It is so popular among would-be Lotharios that Digweed estimates that this song appears on almost 75% of all mix tapes, CDs and MP3 playlists. By putting it as the first track on the mix, Craig Parker would claim that he is showing a sensitive side that other men don’t have, when in actual fact he is subjecting his friend to the awkwardness of hearing his own desires sung forth from another man’s mouth.

It gets worse with track two. The inclusion of a foreign language song on a compilation can have the effect of making the producer seem worldly, music-savvy and intriguing. Unfortunately, Craig has chosen Je t’ non plus by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. This song is three minutes of two people having sex, in French. Literally. As such, it’s quite possibly the least sexy song ever, and guaranteed to have Becky hitting the fast forward button if she ever forces herself to listen to the compilation more than once.

Craig then shows his lack of forethought and planning in compiling this mix. He follows the sleazy porn music of Je t’aime with a song by rock band Mudhoney, presumably to show off his manly appreciation for loud music. This is a laudable (if risky) tactic, but in the context of Craig’s mix, it sounds hopelessly out of place. Never mind a post-coital cigarette; this is more like a post-coital Molotov cocktail.

I could go on outlining the individual shortcomings in the rest of the tracks and criticizing the poor flow between songs (I mean! Come on! Leonard Cohen followed by the Scissor Scissors? That’s not ‘eclectic’! That’s just shite!), but I won’t. This compilation does have some strong points, most obviously the inclusion of a song by Gang of Four, a canny recognition of the fact that Becky likes Franz Ferdinand, a band who sound rather like GoF. The CD cover, made by Craig using Photoshop, is quite nice, though it remains to be seen whether Becky understands the pictorial reference made to the sleeve of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.

All in all, this is a very poor example of the mixtape genre, with some trite inclusions, a lack of thought given to the order of the songs, and nothing by Faith no More on it. God, I love Faith no More.

A Little Something For Becky by Craig Parker was released on an ultra-limited edition of one copy. It was given to Becky Prentice immediately before an awkward silence permeated the room as the hitherto-oblivious young lady realized that she would now have to spend less time with her smitten friend. Becky is now dating a trainee lawyer, and Craig is weeping himself to sleep while listening to Cat Power’s Covers Album and regretting the fact that he didn’t include a song by a female singer on the compilation, to show that he was in touch with his feminine side.

Monday 8 September 2008

Autobiography Review - Maddie Briann Aldridge: My Story

More and more people are writing their autobiographies these days. Celebrities and sportspeople are finding time in their busy schedules to produce works of several hundred pages’ worth of material, not even counting the pictures and indexes. Most surprisingly, troll-faced footballer Wayne Rooney (a man who finds it difficult to string two words together, let alone a grammatically correct sentence), was able to write 320 pages of prose at the same time as playing and training for both Manchester United and England. Miley Cyrus’s autobiography will be released early next year, surely an essential purchase for anyone interested in learning about the no-doubt sizable amount of events and experiences she has had in her fifteen years of existence on Planet Earth.

Before that, though, comes My Story, the long-awaited autobiography by Maddie Briann Aldridge, the daughter of Jamie Lynn Spears. Reports claim that as soon as Britney’s sister announced her pregnancy, publishing houses were falling over themselves to secure the rights to the offspring’s story. Random House won out, and rumours have it that they paid Spears several million dollars for her child’s book.

Beginning with her time in Spears’s womb, Maddie writes with surprising clarity and presence of mind, especially for a three-month-old. Many subjects are covered, including some very private ones: her bout with depression after the pregnancy was announced, for example, while her mother was vilified by the press. Her intense confusion and disorientation upon being thrust into the world. The incessant sensory stimulation that constantly contributed to the development of her brain.

And anyone looking for celebrity gossip need look no further than this book, either. Aldridge talks at length about her views on the relationship between her parents, the torrid life of her aunt, Britney, and the other celebrities she has met since being born. She writes of her own ambition, too, and the singing opportunities that have come her way in the twelve months since her conception.

There is a lot to recommend from this book. Maddie has an excellent writing voice and sense of pace considering she was in a prenatal state for much of this book’s production. Indeed, one may say that this was a benefit, as the book was allowed to gestate just as the author was gestating. It’s not without its drawbacks, however, and I found several sections were dull and self-serving. Aldridge skips around the subject of her grandmother, which will disappoint many star-watchers, and her political opinions are ridiculously ill-informed.

Maddie Briann Aldridge: My Story is a well-written, fascinating insight into the world of a newborn celebrity. I would recommend anyone interested in the book to buy and read a copy soon, because rumour has it that Maddie is planning a second volume as we speak. At this rate, it should be released in time for her first birthday.

The author celebrates at the book's release party

Maddie Briann Aldridge: My Story is published by Random House and has lots of pages. Other books are available.

Friday 5 September 2008

Bestiary Review: The Bestiary of Creatures from the Land of Golgorrth-Heckup

For fans of role playing games, the biggest thing to hit the shelves since the infinite-sided die and the metallic girdle is the new Bestiary of Creatures from the Land of Golgorrth-Heckup. The book lists an awe-inspiring number of new creatures for gamers to encounter on their adventures, with pictures, attack ratings and descriptions. I’ve never met a real dungeon master in my life, but with so much hype surrounding this new book, I set my EXP to ‘Fuck, Yeah!’ and donned my Cape of Intellectual Curiosity. It gives me +2 Literary Criticism Points!

The first thing that hits me as I glance through the Bestiary of Creatures from the Land of Golgorrth-Heckup is the sheer absurdity of the animals included within. The writers and artists must have been smoking something particularly potent when they came up with the wacky and awful beasts in the book. I know if I were an adventurer who came across them in my travels I’d need my Grey Sage’s Golden Pants of Poo Stain Prevention (+6 to clean underwear)!

Choosing a page at random, I find a truly ridiculous animal, undoubtedly the product of a fevered mind. With a grotesquely long neck and tiny head, this “Giraffe” supposedly feasts on the leaves of tall trees, but is surely anatomically impossible. I know we’re in fantasy worlds here, but surely the authors of the book should realise that having such a long neck would prevent the animal from standing up without falling. Having animals so far away from the realms of possibility is a definite shortcoming of the book, in my opinion.

Some people may commend the The Bestiary of Creatures from the Land of Golgorrth-Heckup for the level of astonishment it creates. But when I look at the picture of the “Kangaroo”, an animal that is said to hop along with its young in a pouch on its front, I can’t help but wonder at the sick minds that came up with it. And where do they get the names from? I mean, Kangaroo? Seriously?

I should also warn any parents who allow their children to play RPGs, they should definitely check this book to make sure it’s suitable for their young ones. I refer mostly to the pages dedicated to the “Koala” and the “Penguin”. These animals and their descriptions are so outlandish, so terrifying, why, just thinking about them afterwards gives me a cold sweat. I’m sure pre-teens would get nightmares from them.

I find few things to recommend about this book. Even someone playing Call of Cthulhu would be upset by the “Moose”, a creation so ugly and bizarre that I would not be surprised to discover that it inhabits the first circle of Hell, torturing adulterers. There was more scientific ignorance in this book than in an argument with a creationist. For example, take the utterly ridiculous “Canary”: according to the writers of the book it is able to utilise its long, flappy limbs to defy gravity! And don’t get me started on the section of the book entitled “Amphibians”…

I cannot see the allure of the Bestiary of Creatures from the Land of Golgorrth-Heckup, even for gamers who have exhausted their entire collection of Warhammer 40,000 books. If I were engaged in a quest to rid the world of Zordaxx the Disturbing and the Dungeon Master told me I had to roll a six or higher from two six-sided dice to avoid facing a “Kitten”, I’d laugh at the implausibility of the situation. No, the authors of this book would be well advised to keep their imaginations in check the next time they invent animals for fantasy gamers.

The Bestiary of Creatures from the Land of Golgorrth-Heckup is available now from all hobby stores and that creepy guy who hangs around the mall

Wednesday 3 September 2008

The Clückenfeed Correlation

Professor Jonas Q Clückenfeed’s resume is highly impressive. The scientist has researched in more fields than anyone else, and as a result he has the most compelling collection of cow pats in the world. He has invented more acronyms than the EFTIPMAABLE, and he was the first biologist to dissect a scalpel. Indeed, his CV makes for very impressive reading, but I am a bit confused as to why he keeps sending it to me. I can’t offer him a job...I’m a reviewer! I’m not hiring any scientists! Why would I?

But Clückenfeed is to be highly praised for his latest paper, an epic scientific endeavour several years in the making. In this ground-breaking new work, it is clear that Jonas has uncovered truths about the universe and reality that have important repercussions for every single human being on the planet. And also some dogs. And maybe mice.

The reason for this monumental significance, this historic merit that Clückenfeed’s paper has warranted, is simply stated. It is the Clückenfeed Correlation.

For years, Professor Jonas Q Clückenfeed has studied the music that emanates from people’s cars, and has finally put, in mathematical terms, what many have suspected but none have been able to prove: That the volume of music coming from car windows is inversely proportional to the quality of the music. Or, as Clückenfeed says himself: “The louder the music, the shitter it is.”

Of course, if the revelations ended there, then this would merely be a good, worthwhile paper. But Clückenfeed does not end there, and the paper is incredible as a result. He goes on to elucidate on a whole range of related phenomena, the most impressive of which is his postulation of a theoretical three-dimensional probability cloud in which the higher volumes of music create a denser mist around both the R vector and the B vector. In other words, the louder (and therefore, shitter) the music, the higher the probability that this music will be R&B. The implications from this observation are, of course, numerous.

The final conclusions in the paper are also impressive. After close collaboration with psychiatrists, Professor Clückenfeed has theorised that the people who have the shittest taste in music are, understandably, insecure about their awful aesthetic judgement. This insecurity leads to a heightened desire for acceptance, which leads to their playing it louder while they seek admiring glances from passers-by. But when they see nothing but grimaces and disapproving looks from the people in the street, they feel that they need to play the godawful earshit even louder. Such an unfortunate instance of negative feedback can reach truly catastrophic proportions, and recent observations have found increasing cases of people in cars playing bass so loud that it rattles their chassis. This phenomenon, which Clückenfeed has entitled “Flatulent Aural Bodywork Assault”, can lower the value of a vehicle by many, many guineas.

In summary, Professor Clückenfeed’s marvellous new paper should go a long way to helping our understanding of dickheads who think everyone wants to hear the latest pedestrian pseudo-hip-hop shite, when in actual fact everyone would like to see them chained to the hoods of their hairdresser-impressing glorified rollerskates and pummelled by a team of weightlifting Belarusians until they weep like the waste of carbon that they are.

I can’t wait to read the follow up article, in which the good professor will investigate why the earshite is usually played by people whose taste in cars is similarly retarded.

Any readers who enjoy playing loud, derivatively crap music from their cars for all to hear and who wish to complain about this post are cordially invited to go to Hell.

Monday 1 September 2008

Breakfast Cereal Reviews

Breakfast, they say, is the most important meal of the day. It isn’t. Any meal in which steak doesn’t feature prominently can’t be the best at all. So breakfast is the most important meal of the day that doesn’t have steak in it. But breakfast cereal is great, and many new brands have popped up in recent weeks, leading me to eat them with gusto while making notes in my special little notebook (which has a picture of a palm tree on the cover).

First of all I tried Kellogg’s Moral Fibre. This is sure to be big in America in no time. Moral Fibre consists of small, crunchy flakes of fibrous material, each with an ethically inspirational slogan written on it in tiny letters. As each mouthful of breakfast went down my gullet, I felt more and more altruistic; I can only speculate as to the cereal’s contribution to my actions throughout the day, but I was certainly a better person. My decision not to push an old lady into the path of a passing truck – an uncharacteristic instance of benevolence on my part – certainly could have been down to my choice of breakfast bowl. I can see Kellogg’s Moral Fibre being a big hit in the local prisons. Also, for a limited time, collect enough tokens and you can send off for a copy of Spinoza’s Ethics.

Breakfast of Champions is a very interesting new cereal, available only by mail order from a company called Taste of Victory, Inc. In order to purchase this product, one must apply through the company’s website, and a background check is made by the company to see whether you are, in fact, a champion in some way. If not, you are roundly ignored and must make other dining arrangements. Being pretty much a failure in all my endeavours, I was unable to secure a box of BoC, but an imaginary acquaintance called Marc was able to obtain some on my behalf, as in his youth he was a prominent local pole vaulter.

Breakfast of Champions tastes like success. I understand that this is due to the fact that one of the main ingredients is Tiger Woods’s sweat. This is a highly pleasant sensation, but after I had eaten a bowlful I felt like punching some cub scouts. Checking out the nutritional information, I found that it contains enough testosterone and adrenaline to kill a marmoset; indeed, since I made my way through the box I learned that the International Olympic Committee had announced that anyone caught eating the cereal would be banned from competition and stripped of medals.

Finally, Dictator-Os are a popular new cereal in the former Soviet nations, as yet unavailable in the West through official channels. I received a box of this breakfast treat from my contact Schtoltheim Reinbach III, and I’m told that several Volga boatmen died in the process of smuggling it.

Pouring the milk on the Dictator-Os, I watched with joy as the white liquid turned red with the blood of the innocent. The box, while mostly a functional grey colour, features some fun puzzles on the back, including a “get the democracy campaigner out of prison” maze (don’t spend too much time on this, it’s impossible) and a cut-out-and-keep iron maiden. As to the taste of Dictator-Os, it’s functional, for sure, with no decadent flourishes. It’s crunchy, but not crunchy enough to draw attention to oneself while eating it. Oh, and inside every box is a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which you can use as a napkin. Great stuff.

Silly Imaginary Reviewer! Trix are for kids!